MA gas explosions reminiscent of 1992 Chicago incident


A new natural gas leak was discovered in the Boston area just two days after a series of pipeline explosions killed one person, injured more than 25 and prompted MA to declare a state of emergency.

More than 60 suspected gas fires broke out Thursday evening in homes in the north Boston towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.

Hundreds of natural gas technicians were to descend on Lawrence, Andover and North Andover in the coming days to restore gas service safely before electricity could be turned on, state officials said.

The blasts killed at least one person, injured at least 10 more and started 70 fires in three different communities.

Sumwalt said it appears Columbia Gas' pipeline control centre in Columbus, Ohio, registered a pressure increase in the Lawrence area.

Columbia said in a statement that crews would visit each of the 8,600 affected customers to shut off gas meters and carry out safety inspections.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", said Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael B. Mansfield. Leonel Rondon, 18, died after a chimney fell on his vehicle in Lawrence. He later died at the hospital, authorities said.

The entirety of South Lawrence is still under an evacuation warning, Mayor Dan Rivera said Friday morning. About 25 people, including two firefighters, were wounded, officials said.

"We are very interested to understand the operations of Columbia Gas".

Federal and state officials are investigating.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters in Washington the agency sent a "go-team" of investigators to the area.

In April this year, NiSource's Columbia Gas of MA filed a petition with the state's Department of Public Utilities to increase annual revenues in order to help the company replace aging infrastructure.

Local officials also warned about donation scammers.